“…the Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.” – 1 Samuel 3:4
Note: Last week, our assignment was to read 1 Samuel chapter 3 and answer a few questions; if you haven’t done so already, please read the assigned passage here.
The old adage goes, “we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak”. There is an art to listening, to deeply hearing and understanding, what is being said and I believe, with practice, we can get better and better.
Let’s take Samuel’s experience with God to identify ways we can hear and listen to God.
Be in position: chapter 3 opens with Samuel in the tabernacle of the Lord. (an image of the Tabernacle of the Lord, here.) It is nighttime and Samuel is laying down in the innermost portion of the temple. I don’t know if you have had spiritual experiences at night or what time of day makes you feel close to God. I find it interesting that a boy would find peace and comfort in the quiet most sacred part of the temple. The Spirit of God dwelled in the ark, it dwelled right near where Samuel was. Prior to such a life changing event, Samuel was positioned exactly where God wanted him to be, not only physically but spiritually.
- Question: What time of day can lay down or sit quietly before the Lord?
Be responsive: After the Lord called out to Samuel, he immediately responded “here I am”. The Hebrew word for “here I am” is “hinneni” which signified confirmation that one heard and was listening to the speaker. In order to actually hear God, you have to willing to respond. The phrase “here I am” represents willingness and openness. We cannot expect for God to speak into our lives in a profound way if we ignore His whispers. Samuel responded in confirmation then ran to Eli to present himself and when Eli suggested that God might be calling him, Samuel went back to lie down. I love that when Samuel was called a third time by God, he responded “Here I am, you called me”. No matter who called Samuel, he was ready and responded.
- Question: When you feel like God is talking to you, do you dismiss the inclination or do you pray and tell God that you are attentive and listening to Him?
Be obedient: When God speaks, we should listen, but we also should act. The Word of God is powerful and when God speaks it’s because He wants to accomplish something. My fear is, our limited human rationale talks us out of truly obeying God. I’m guilty of overthinking and most times, when I feel like God has told me to do something, I find ways to rationalize it forgetting that God said “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.”, Isaiah 55:8. God doesn’t manage our lives based on our intellect. He manages our lives based on His wisdom. Obeying God is the most important aspect of our lives. God is looking for hearers of the Word and doers of the Word. Samuel heard everything the Lord said and obeyed God, even though he was fearful.
- Question: Have you ever felt like God wanted you to do something that was utterly terrifying? If so, how did you manage your emotions? Did you obey God immediately or did you deliberate before you obeyed?
Be a servant: When God called Samuel for the third time, Samuel responded “Speak, for your servant is listening”. The concept of being a servant is lost in our society. We power trip quite easily. Because servitude is looked upon as a lowly position, our society has found countess ways to elevate ourselves at the expense of others. Jesus, however, is the example of a servant and everyone is called to mimic Him. Samuel, was found listening to God and acknowledged, after being called, that He was a servant of God. This is why Samuel was comfortable obeying God, he recognized he was merely a servant and not the lord of the request.
- Question: Do you struggle with being a servant? When God asks you to do something are you submissive? Are you willing to be used by God as a servant even if it makes you uncomfortable?
It took years for me to dedicate myself to consistent time with the Lord in the morning. I would pray so hard, “Lord help me wake up to study and pray” and then one day it finally hit me. I recognized had to just DO it even if I only did it once or twice a week, I had to just start doing the thing! I found, the more I did set time aside for God, the easier it got. Now, even when I’m traveling I make time to connect with God. I not only make time, I look forward to that time. It keeps me balanced and at peace with God. Every moment spent with Him I feel fulfilled and I receive encouragement to press on with the plans He has for me. Obeying God’s will in my life is much easier when I’m open to listening to what He has to say to me every single day.
Challenge: This week, I challenge you to find a time most suitable for you to sit with the Lord. It can be mornings, evenings, lunch time, your commuting time, etc. I want you to present yourself to God and open your Bible and say, “Here I am. Speak Lord, your servant is listening”. This isn’t’ about perfecting the art of listening, it is solely about practicing the art of listening. God wants to speak to all of us, but we have to be open. That means, open hearts and open schedules/planners.